Quality By-Name List (BNL)

This section of the change package is most appropriate for communities focused on building a quality By-Name List (BNL) for specific subpopulations (e.g. veteran and chronic) or for all single adults.

A by-name list allows you to know everyone in your community experiencing homelessness in real time. Without this information, you cannot:

  • Understand the scope of homelessness in your community
  • Understand how people move in and out of your system on an ongoing basis
  • Have accurate information to set goals to reduce homelessness
  • Have accurate information to understand if you are making progress in ending homelessness

The key components of a quality By-Name List include ensuring that your system is touching everyone who is homeless in your community; that you can accurately assess who is entering your homeless system on an ongoing basis; and that you can accurately track their progress through the system, including how successful you are in implementing prioritization and providing permanent housing to those who need it.

Take the By-Name List Scorecard!


Build the Will to Achieve a Quality BNL

Establish an accountable Multi-agency improvement team

  • Start with your early adopters, and use them as a testing group to work out the kinks in your by-name list policies and protocols. Use your learning from this test group to bring un-engaged providers onboard.

Local team has a formal structure in place to coordinate regularly across entire system

Create a shared aim and target date to achieve a Quality BNL

  • Use multimedia resources to help the improvement team align around the process and the goal.

Achieve and Sustain Sufficient Participation and Outreach Coverage

Outreach is coordinated, sufficient, and documented

  • Partner with local SAMHSA-funded PATH teams to coordinate additional outreach and support for individuals with mental health or substance-use issues.
  • In rural communities, secure agreement for non-homelessness-specific partners to make referrals to dedicated outreach staff or access points; make sure to maintain face-to-face contact for the client throughout the process.
  • Map outreach efforts in your CoC geography by facilitating a meeting with all organizations doing outreach, including PATH providers and mental health teams; note gaps and where duplication may occur.
  • Define the role for outreach teams and train them to serve as an access point; duties may include administering assessments, adding individuals to the by-name list, and linking to services or interventions.
  • Partner with non-traditional or non-housing partners (e.g. food pantries, law enforcement, faith-based organizations) to engage clients in conversation about housing and connect them to the coordinated entry system
  • Identify agencies that provide services after normal business hours, such as shelter, outreach and crisis intervention, and assess their willingness to serve as access points.
  • Use 2-1-1 as a 24-hour central hotline to connect individuals to coordinated entry access points after normal business hours.

Providers use a common assessment tool and report data to BNL

Collect Data on all types of homelessness

  • Ensure that the CES process addresses the physical and emotional safety, as well as privacy and confidentiality needs, of participants by developing strong relationships between the CoC, local victim service providers, and state domestic and sexual violence coalitions.

Document Coverage in Policies and Procedures

  • Create a policy that documents your community’s outreach practices and protocols. Make sure to revisit this policy regularly to ensure that it continues to be sufficient as your community changes.

Implement BNL Policies and Procedures

Implement an inactivity policy

  • Determine the length of inactivity threshold that makes sense for your community, engaging the appropriate governing body, and publish it in your inactivity policy.

Develop a policy to track Individuals without a full assessment

  • Document encounters with individuals unwilling or unable to complete a full assessment, and include them on your by-name list; be sure to protect the way information is stored and shared, and note you must have consent from these individuals to include them on the BNL.
  • Work with your HMIS Admin or vendor to establish a workflow within HMIS that allows staff to record client details without using identifying information that can be tracked separately, thereby maintaining confidentiality but allows records to be included in your overall count of actively homeless individuals.

Update data in a timely and accurate way

  • For large cities, create a tiered management structure for ensuring data quality and reliability form the provider level to the HMIS level.
  • Monitor timeliness of agencies’ updates and review it at in-person meetings to encourage consistency; if using HMIS as your platform, create a plan to monitor timeliness and accuracy, and support agencies to help them improve.

Implement and sustain person-specific data infrastructure

Track homeless status and date of status change

  • In advance of case conferencing meeting, collect updates to individuals’ homeless status in order to use case conferencing to discuss client progress towards housing.
  • Designate by-name list fields for status of homeless individual (i.e. unsheltered, sheltered, housed, inactive) and date of most recent status change.

Assign a unique identifier to each individual

  • If your by-name list is hosted separately from HMIS, develop a protocol for assigning a unique identifier to each individual for the purpose of cross-referencing HMIS with the BNLt, de-duplication, and maintaining anonymity (reminder: a unique identifier should not be a social security number or birth date)

Track newly identified individuals

  • Designate field in by-name list to track when a newly identified individual is added (i.e. date of assessment).
  • Sort or filter list by date of assessment to generate report of individuals who entered the system in a given month; you will need to aggregate this data monthly and should plot on a trend line to understand changes in inflow over time.

Track individuals returning to the BNL

  • Create a project or report in HMIS that allows you to cross-reference new intakes with inactive individuals so that you can move them back to active status as they reengage the system.

Track all outflow

Track all population-based statuses

  • Streamline processes for verifying and indicating veteran status in your by-name list database through dedicated coordination between the coordinated entry and VAMC staff.
  • Create check-in process for case managers to update chronic status over time; chronic status can also be updated as individuals are enrolled into additional housing and support services.
  • Do not wait for disability paperwork to add individuals to the chronic by-name list; disability should be assumed based on self-report, and navigators can collect documentation in parallel to housing process.

Ensure quality system-wide data

All providers are represented in BNL data

  • Keep a list of agencies contributing data to HMIS and your BNL, plus another list of non-contributing agencies, so that you can continually encourage them to begin participating.
  • Train staff to input GPD program data in HMIS and the BNL; if HMIS does not host your by-name list, ask the list manager to create a mechanism to regularly report and capture GPD data.

Data is reliable and accurate

  • Avoid duplicate records by creating a protocol to cross-reference the inactive list when assessors are entering client data; you may ask assessors to check if the individual already has a unique identifier or has been on the BNL.